Tweeting Away

May The Best Man Win.

The 2009 Australian Open Men's Final? EPIC. A match like that always reminds me of why I love tennis.

I first got into tennis when I was 14. It was the summer before my sophomore year in high school, and my mom on a whim enrolled me into the tennis clinic at school. She probably wanted to get me out of the house, wanted me to have a productive summer. My parents liked the idea of extra-curricular activities - as a kid, I took art classes (when I was four or five I even had a painting of mine make it into a catalog of awardees in some Polish art contest), piano lessons, guitar lessons, sang in a church choir - but the one that stuck was tennis. After that summer, I was hooked. I made the tennis varsity team and found a great set of friends. Some days I'd be in the classroom but my mind would wander off to the tennis courts. Our team even got to go to Palawan for two weeks to compete, and it made for some great memories with my teammates.

And while I never dreamt of becoming a tennis pro (and was really never remotely good enough to believe it could happen), I loved the game. I loved being on the court on a hot sunny day. I loved the sound the ball made when it hit the racquet - that solid popping sound that meant you hit the ball on the right spot. I loved watching tennis on television and seeing the greats play. I loved changing the grip on my racquet and having it restrung every so often. And I loved shopping for tennis outfits!

Most of all, I love that a tennis match, when played by two great players, really becomes more than a game, more than a sport - the word "epic" really comes to mind. Oh, the drama of an intense tennis match! It probably has a lot to do with tennis being a one-man sport (sometimes two, but we all know singles tennis trumps doubles most of the time). Imagine being at center court in a grand slam final - yes, there are thousands of people watching you, but you are unable to speak to anyone, not even to your coach, who at best can only throw you knowing glances of motivation. The crowd can cheer for you, but they are fickle - they will cheer for the other guy too, and will applaud every amazing shot, every break point saved, every point won. Ultimately, you are alone with your thoughts and your nerves, with nothing but a racquet in your hand. What could be the most defining moment of your career, and you are alone - and that is probably the greatest challenge of tennis, that the journey to victory is one you take all by yourself, a lonely, lonely road.

Victory in tennis, however, is victory that a player shares with the world, and that is probably why winning a grand slam brings the sweetest victory of all. You've seen how players react, year on year, grand slam upon grand slam - when that final point is won, a wave of emotion takes over the court. The victor falls to his knees, breaks down in tears, and the crowd is with him in his moment of victory.

But what makes a tennis match even more special, what makes it one for the history books, is when it's between two amazing players both deserving of victory. My favorite match of all time would have to be the Wimbledon Final between Pat Rafter and Goran Ivanisevic. To begin with, there was an underdog slant to it - Goran Ivanisevic was a wildcard - a wildcard! And Pat Rafter, while still relatively young, was in the brink of retirement. They were both underdogs in their own right, and both had somehow managed to make it into the final of the most prized of the grand slams. They put on an epic five-setter - towards the end of it, you knew they weren't just playing for that trophy anymore. They were playing for a place in history. They were playing for all the years they devoted to the sport. They were playing for love of the game. They were playing their best and giving their all because they believed that in tennis, the best man won. At the heat of a tennis match, who wins or loses is not dependent on the training and preparation prior to the tournament. It's not dependent on the line calls and the umpire's decisions. A player wins a tennis match because at that moment, he plays his best, gives his all, pushes his limits and pushes himself to breaking point. And whoever pushes himself just a little bit more than the other is the victor. At some point in an intensely fought tennis match, it's really not about how well prepared you are or how skilled you are - at some point, it all really comes down to how much heart you have and how much you want it, that makes a winner.

The Australian Open final between Nadal and Federer was one of the most intense, most dramatic matches I've ever seen. It's right up there with that Ivanisevic-Rafter match. I wish I could've been there live! That would've been insane to watch.

And the best part about it was the sportsmanship between the two players - Nadal's humility in victory, Federer's nobility and honest show of emotion in defeat, and in a strange way, the camaraderie they share within their rivaly. Because while in tennis and in most other sports, there is only one winner, it takes two people to make history with an amazing, unforgettable match, and an unforgettable tennis match bears not one, never one, but always, always, two heroes.

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